GROUP Seven could see a storm on the horizon very shortly.
The Highlands Storm Rugby League Club has formally applied to NSWRL to align themselves with Group Seven South Coast Rugby League and potentially end its long affiliation with Group Six Rugby League.
Storm junior chairperson Matthew Burke explained the decision to move from Group Six to Group Seven became very straight forward in the end.
"We consulted all of our members and playing group, and we received 95 per cent positive feedback on the move," Burke said.
NSWRL have long indicated they would like to see a closer association between Group Six and the South Western Sydney Macarthur region and with the disbanding of the CRL governing body this year, these plans are now well underway.
"Camden, Narellan, Oran Park, Mt Annan and Campbelltown are now well and truly embedded into South Western Sydney," Burke said.
"For several years, we have seen the Group Seven Junior A grade competitions dominated by these northern clubs and this has resulted in a pretty big imbalance when playing the more regional clubs."
NSWRL have indicated the need for more equitable competitions within the South West Sydney Region which potentially means the amalgamation of Junior A grade competitions between the Group Six and Macarthur areas.
"This may result in Group Six teams playing in as far as Liverpool, and maybe even further," Burke said
"We believe the Highlands Storm is a regional club and should play in a regional competition.
"Group Seven is a fantastic alternative for players from the Highlands that do not want to travel into South Western Sydney.
"We polled our members for feedback, and these were some of the responses."
Storm senior chairperson Peter Howard reiterated Burke's position.
"The members overwhelmingly elected to move to Group Seven," Howard said.
"One of our discussion points revolved around the perception of travel distances.
"We looked at this very closely and the Group Seven grounds on average are only 10 - 15 minutes further driving time than the current Group Six grounds.
"Given the potential of Group Six having to travel even further into Sydney in the coming years, this average will decrease.
"These average travelling times do not consider the gridlock often experienced on Narellan road and the like in that South Western Sydney corridor, so actual driving time averages would reduce further again.
"In many ways, it is sad to leave the Group Six competition, as our founding clubs have a great and proud history there.
"That history though will always remain, and it forms an integral part of the Southern Highlands Storm, but it is evident that Group Six is heading to more of a metropolitan competition."
"Moss Vale won a Group Six competition 10 years ago, Mittagong Club 25 years ago, and until recent years, Bowral held the Group Six record for the most premierships won in the entire group.
"Times though have changed, and the demographic of Group Six is changing quickly, and while the Highlands teams and some of our smaller neighbours to the north may remain regional, the majority of Group Six have not.
"Our members are very excited about the prospect of entering Group Seven, which will provide our club with that continued regional country rugby league atmosphere.
"The Southern Highlands Storm would still spend half the season at home in the Southern Highlands, providing great regional rugby league across the area in our home games.
"Our away games in the coldest parts of winter would be spent in places like Kiama, so the future in Group Seven looks very promising."
With registrations opening on December 1, 2020 and pre-season kicking off in February, the Highlands Storm is again gearing up for a big season on and off the field in 2021.
The Highlands Storm now welcomes any interested persons to get involved.
For all inquiries please contact the club via email: email@example.com (juniors) and firstname.lastname@example.org (seniors).